• Rearrange your rooms. Move your furniture away from exterior walls and older windows, which are likely to be drafty. Move furniture near interior walls and don’t sit in the draft.
• Move furniture and drapes away from heating registers and air returns to allow them to work efficiently.
• Keep your traditional fireplace shut. Traditional fireplaces allow heated air to escape out of your home up the chimney. When the fireplace is not in use, make sure the damper is completely closed. Before closing the damper, make sure that you don’t have any smoldering embers. If you decide not to use a fireplace, then block off the chimney with a piece of rigid insulation from the hardware store that fits into the space. Be sure to insulate the chimney if you do not plan to use the fireplace because even when the damper is shut completely some heat will escape through the chimney.
• Remember to turn off kitchen and bath-ventilating fans after they’ve done their job. These fans can blow the heated air out of your home if left on longer than necessary.
• According to the Department of Energy, more than 40% of energy loss in a residence is due mainly to air leakage. To reduce such losses, insulate your pipes, walls, attic, crawl spaces, basement, and floors. Also, insulate ventilator ducts and water pipes that pass through unheated areas such as the garage, basement, and attic. When purchasing insulation, higher R-values mean greater insulating power.
• Plug the leaks throughout your home. Install weather-stripping or caulk leaky doors and windows and install gaskets behind outlet covers. By sealing up the spaces in your home that let heated air escape in the winter and cooled air escape during the summer you can save 10% on your energy costs.
• Have your furnace professionally inspected once a year. Change the disposable furnace filter a minimum of three times a year or more often if they become dirty.
• To maximize heating efficiency, ensure that your heating ducts in conditioned areas are as clean as possible. In unconditioned areas, such as an attic or vented crawl space seal your ducts to prevent leaks.
• Cover bare floors. Carpeting adds comfort and creates heat retention, especially if there is little or no floor insulation.
• When replacing doors, consider insulated metal or fiberglass replacement doors.
• Wear layers around the house. Put on your favorite sweater or wear warmer layers around the house and set your thermostat between 65 and 68 degrees during the winter, health permitting. Lower your thermostat at night and add blankets to stay cozy.
• Shorten your showers. Simply reducing the time you spend in the shower by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of hot water per month for a family of four. Showers account for 2/3 of your water heating costs. Cutting your showers in half will reduce your water heating costs by 33%.
• Install a low-flow showerhead. Traditional showerheads deliver between 5-8 gallon of water per minute (gpm). The current standard for low flow showerheads is 2.5 (gpm) at the same water pressure. Therefore, an investment of as little as $5 can cut your energy costs of taking a hot shower by 50%.
• Use a water heater blanket or jacket. This is especially valuable for older water heaters with little internal insulation. Be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered when insulating a gas water heater. By insulating your water heater you can save 10% on your water heating costs.
• Lower the temperature of your water heater. According to the Department of Energy, you can save between 3%-5% in energy costs for each 10°F reduction in the temperature setting of your water heater. Consider setting your water heater to 120°F, and switching to “vacation” when you are away.
• Match the pan size to the element size. For example, when using an electric cooktop, a 6” pan on an 8” burner will waste over 40% of the heat produced by the burner.
• Buy sturdy, flat-bottomed cookware. The ideal pan has a slightly concave bottom. When the pan heats up, the metal expands and the bottom flattens out. An electric cooktop is significantly less efficient if the pan does not have good contact with the cooktop. For example, boiling water for pasta could use 50% more energy on a cheap, warped-bottom pan compared to a flat-bottom pan.
• Use high-conductivity materials. Certain materials also work better than others and usually result in more evenly cooked food. For instance, copper-bottom pans heat up faster than regular pans. In the oven, glass or ceramic pans are typically better than metal – you can turn down the temperature about 25°F and cook foods just as quickly.
• Keep your stovetop clean and shiny. When burner pans become blackened from heavy use, they can absorb a lot of heat. Reducing burner efficiency. You want the burner pans to remain shiny so they can reflect heat up to the cookware.
• Reduce your cooking time. Before you start, defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking. While you cook, keep oven racks clear. Don’t lay foil on the racks and, if possible, stagger multiple pans to improve air flow. Avoid peeking into the oven as you cook. On an electric burner or in the oven, turn off the heat just before the food is finished to prevent over cooking. The next time you cook, cook double portions so all you have to do is reheat prepared food. Also, use the self-cleaning option in your oven infrequently and only after you’ve cooked a meal so it can use the residual heat.